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Q972.B1063 079 1C LAC COP. 2 

the new 



Theodore Draper 





The General Libraries 

University of Texas 

at Austin 

Mary Gardner 


Theodore Draper has spent the last 25 years as a journalist, 
historian and editor who has specialized in international affairs 
and American foreign policy, with extended excursions into the 
history of the American labor movement in general and the 
American Communist movement in par- 
ticular. He has worked in and written 
about France, Germany, Morocco, Haiti, 
Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Re- 
public. Cuba and other countries. 

The author of four books, his first, 
The Six Weeks' War — a study of the 
French defeat of 1940 — appeared m 
1944. His second, The Battle of Ger- 
many > published in 1946, was the of- 
ficial history of the 84th Infantry 
Division, the unit with which he served 
in World War II. When the project on Communism in American 
Life was formed by the Fund for the Republic, Draper was 
asked to write the history of the Communist party of the United 
States from its beginnings to 1945. His first volume in this series, 
The Roots of American Communism, came out in 1957; the 
second, American Communism and Soviet Russia, was issued 
in May of last year. He plans to start working on the third 
and final volume, dealing with the period 1930-45, next fall. 

This supplement is published by special arrangement with the British 
magazine Encounter. Copyright (§) 1961 by Encounter. 

The Nfcw i.i t PuMUIilhI weekly (except July and August: semi- monthly) hy Tlit 

American LHbor Conference On International Affairs, Inc. Publication OBicr: 34 N, Crystal 

Street, EnsL Slroudsburg, Pa. Editorial and executive <.ilTici; : 7 E. 15-th Si ret t. New York 3, 
N. Y. 



I 1 

= s 

ImniiiinnuHi [iiinEiiiiiuinniiEiiEi^iemmiiBy Theodore DLraperiiiiHtiiEi^iueiimiinthntiiiiiiiiiiiriiiiinnimuHii mm 

Who IS Fidel Castro? What is he? After two years in power, he still 
evades both his defenders and detractors. In the first months of 
his regime, Castro used to speak of "humanism," which he defined as 
"liberty with bread without terror"— hardly a political or social program. 
But after trying it out a few times, he dropped it in favor of even more 
ambiguous formulas. When he or his associates were asked what kind of 
society they were building or what it should be called, they usually answered 
that they were building "a reality, not a theory," or that they were interested 
"in deeds, not words," or that their revolution was "indigenously Cuban. 
Castro still refuses to be pinned down to anything more definite and, until 
he commits himself, the question officially remains open. 

At a youth congress in Havana last August, however, Ernesto Guevara 
Minister of Industry and former president of the National Bank 
of Cuba— whose bank notes are signed with his nickname, ' Che, 
nothing more—took a long step toward giving the regime an ideology and 
a name. Since Guevara is the ideological eminence grise of Castro's regime, 
he has a habit of saying today what Castro will say tomorrow. He said: 
"What is our ideology? If I were asked whether our revolution is Com- 
munist, I would define it as Marxist. Our revolution has discovered by its 
methods the paths that Marx pointed out." In "Notes for the Study of the 
Ideology of the Cuban Revolution," published last October in the magazine 
Verde Olivo, Guevara wrote: "The principal actors of this revolution had 
no coherent theoretical criteria; but it cannot be said that they were ignorant 
of the various concepts of history, society, economics and revolution which 
are being discussed in the world today." Then he declared: "We, practical 
revolutionaries, initiating our own struggle, simply fulfill laws foreseen 
by Marx the scientist," 

These statements raise more intriguing questions than they pretend to 
answer Did Guevara mean to imply that the ideology was "Marxist but 
not "Communist?" Was it the "Marxism" of the Communists or some other 
"Marxism?" Did Fidel, Guevara and the others really come upon Marxism 
as if they were bright but naive children rediscovering the roundness of the 
earth? Could the "laws" of "Marx the scientist," which have not been 
fulfilled anywhere else, be fulfilled in the little island of Cuba by those 
who did not know what they were doing until after they had done it? 
Guevara's explanation obviously explains too little or too much. But 

Castro, Guevara and other Cuban leaders have spoken much more freely 
and at far greater length to a chosen few who have become their foreign 
interpreters and apologists. This growing band, however, has not had an 
easy time of it, and has been forced to do much of the theorizing that the 
Cubans have refused to do for themselves. In time, every revolution has 
created its own mythology but, in this case, these foreign sympathizers, in 
lieu of embracing one ready-made, have had to produce their own. Each 
of these sympathizers has made his own characteristic contribution to this 
mythology which, if nothing else, tells us what those who feel closest to 
Castro make of him. The situation is undoubtedly an oddity but, then, the 
Cuban revolution is an odd one. 


ONE OF THE FIRST and favorite myths has been that of Castro's "peasant 

It turned up in the articles written and interviews given by the French 
writers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who spent March 1960 in 
Cuba. After the usual hectic round of short trips and long talks, Sartre 
wrote a series of 16 articles in France-soir. In one of them he related how 
he had informed the Cubans that, like the Chinese, they had made a 
"peasant revolution." The Cuban reaction, he reported, was divided: the 
"bearded ones" (those who had fought in the mountains) agreed with him; 
the "unbearded ones" (those who had fought in the resistance movements 
in the cities) maintained that the peasants had fought little or badly and that 
the revolution had sprung from the cities. 

Mme. de Beauvoir gave a somewhat different version in an interview in 
France Observateur. She said that the petty-bourgeoisie had begun by 
stirring up the urban revolution while the peasants had held back; then, 
bit by bit, the peasants had joined in, the "immediate interests*' of the 
victorious revolution had become those of the peasant class, and thus "despite 
its origins, the urban revolution can be considered a peasant revolution." 

As a full-fledged theory, however, the Cuban peasant revolution made its 
appearance in the book, Cuba, Anatomy of a Revolution, by Leo Huberman 
and Paul M. Sweezy, editors of the magazine, Monthly Review. After three 
weeks in Cuba, they were persuaded that the revolution had succeeded be- 
cause the peasants as a class had actively joined the rebels and had become 
"one with the revolutionary army." Fidel Castro appeared to them to be 
"the embodiment of the revolutionary will and energy of the peasantry." 
As for the kind of system that this peasant revolution had brought forth, 
Huberman and Sweezy "have no hesitation in answering: the hew Cuba is 
a socialist, Cuba" 

Six months later, they paid another three-week visit to Cuba. By this time, 
the Castro regime had nationalized a large part of the Cuban economy. This 
development caused them to revise their previous estimate— the Cuban 
revolution was no longer "essentially a peasant revolution" because the 
working dass had finally been "swept" into it. Castro himself had not yel 

reached the point of calling himself a "Marxist," but the two visitors ^con- 
ferred on him the distinction of having arrived, by virtue of his own rich 
experience" and "sharp and fertile mind," at an "unmistakably Marxist 
interpretation in a way that would have made Marx himself "proud to 
acknowledge him as a disciple." Despite Castro's "modesty," however they 
heard so much about a socialist Cuba that it had become a "commonplace, 
in contrast to their first trip, during which no one had spoken to them of 
Cuba as a socialist country, and socialism was not even included among the 
revolution's ultimate goals. 

And so, in the spring of 1960, a new path to socialism was discovered— 
a peasant revolution led by the middle-class son of a wealthy landowner. 
And in the fall of 1960, there was more certainty than ever of the socialist 
revolution in Cuba because the working class bad at last caught up with it^ 
Other Castro sympathizers have gone farther. Paul Johnson of the British 
weekly, New Statesman, took a quick look at Cuba and reported that Castro 
had come to power through a "peasant revolution" but governs through a 
genuine dictatorship of the proletariat," expressed through the "arbitrary 
rule of one man. In the New Republic, Professor Samuel Schapiro, an 
American academic advocate for Castro, merely limited himself to com- 
menting that "the heart of the revolution, the land reform program, is 
essentially Marxist." And C Wright Mills of Columbia University bas made 
an anthology of all the things that Castro and his closest associates say of 
themselves, at least as of last August. 

Professor Mills' recently published book, Listen, Yankee! is a peculiarly 
useful and exasperating work. It purports to be "the voice of the Cuban 
revolutionary," not that of its author. From the conversations I had in 
Cuba last April, I can testify that the Castro leaders talk much in the way 
Mills has recorded them. Sometimes the words in the book were so close 
to those I had heard that I felt I knew the name of the source. To this 
extent, Mills has made himself the vehicle of -the purest and most direct 
propaganda, unlike the others who talked to more or less the same people 
but passed on in their own name what they had been told. No one ever 
said "Listen, Yankee !" or "Yankee this" and "Yankee that" to me, but 
except for this touch of artistic license, I consider these long monologues 
more or less authentic. Anyone who wants to get the Castro party line most 
nakedly can get it here. 

Nevertheless, Mills has put his name to the book and in the last lew 
pages gives the Castro case his personal endorsement. He says that he 
leaves it to the reader to agree or disagree with the points in it, as if 
there might be one non-Cuban reader in a hundred or a thousand with the 
necessary background. A reader has a right to expect that the author should 
do some work of his own beyond listening only to one side, and that a 
sociologist would at least be able to give a reasonably accurate report of 

the worltinR class, compared lt>j»n,js0fl about 

ion for tlio re»ol«" 

nentWlM r-lanwlicre in the hwrti. liowevw. they adi 

wtro AlLfiL' lie took powur. In the subsequent RTtlcln 


the social structure of the country. The book as a whole is just as honest and 
dishonest as any unrelieved propaganda is likely to be, and if Mills merely 
sought to be a front man for the Castro propaganda machine, he has suc- 
ceeded brilliantly. But is that all that should he expected of C. Wright Mills? 
Mills' Cubans — one never knows where they end and he begins — are not 
altogether in agreement with Sweezy and Huberman. First, Mills tells what 
the revolution was not— "not a fight between peasants and landowners, or 
between wage workers and capitalists— either Cuban or Yankee; nor was it 
a direct nationalist battle between Cubans and foreigners." It was "not an 
'economically determined' revolution — either in its origins or in its sources." 
Nor was it '"a revolution by labor unions or wage workers in the city, or 
by labor parties, or by anything like that." What was it then? The leaders 
were "young intellectuals and students from the University of Havana"— 
they are also called "a few middle-class students and intellectuals"— who 
made "a lot of first moves for a long time before some of their moves began 
to pay oil." The revolution "really began" when, in one of these moves, 
"a handful of these young intellectuals really got together with the peasants." 
Thus Mills' version contains no nonsense about a "peasant revolution"; 
it merely claims that the decisive forces in the insurrectionary period were 
the intellectuals and the peasants, with the former in total command. There 
is also no nonsense about the workers making the revolution: they are said 
to have joined in after the victory, and their "revolutionary consciousness" 
has allegedly been aroused only in recent months. At this point, however, 
mythology takes over and Mills also has the workers superseding the peasants 
as a revolutionary force. But the greatest nonsense is written about the 
middle class. The original "handful" of leaders admittedly came exclusively 
from that class. Nevertheless, the mythology requires that "the middle classes 
generally supported the revolution, at least in a passive way, during the 
insurrectionary period, although as a class they had little to do with making 
it. I take it this means that most members of the middle class supported 
the revolution passively or not at all- 
Mills has also compiled a number of programmatic statements by Castro's 
group. There is still the old reluctance to be pinned down to anything 
definite, because a "political system" would hamper the leaders, because 
very few people care about it anyway, or because the very lack of a system 
proves that it is democratic. But this motif slides gently into another one: 
"We ourselves don't quite know what to call what we are building, and we 
don't care. It is, of course, socialism of a sort." Or, whatever the system is, 
the Cubans discovered it all by themselves: "In so far as we are Marxist or 
Leftist (or Communist, if you will) in our revolutionary development and 
thought, it is not due to any prior commitment in our ideology. It is because 
of our own development." Still later in the book, Castro's Cuba becomes "a 
dictatorship of, by and for the peasants and the workers of Cuba" or "a 
dictatorship of the people." Mills himself considers Castro's regime to be "a 
revolutionary dictatorship of die peasants and workers of Cuba" in which 
one man possesses "virtually absolute power." 

All these theories by Sartre and de Beauvoir, Huberman and Sweezy, 

Johnson and Schapiro, Mills' Cubans and Mills, cannot be true but they 
have one thing in common — they serve the purpose of concealing the fact 
that the Cuban revolution was essentially a middle-class revolution which 
has been used to destroy the middle class. And without understanding this 
apparent contra diction, very little can be understood of Castro's Cuba as 
a social system. 


To BEGIN WITH, what truth is there in Castro's "peasant revolution?" 
The 82 men under Castro who invaded Cuba from Mexico in Decem- 
ber 1956 and the 12 who survived to fight in the mountainous Sierra Maestra 
at the eastern end of the island all came from the middle class. Castro 
himself was their ideal representative — son of a rich landowner, university 
graduate, lawyer. The guajiros, or peasants, in the mountains were utterly 
alien to most of them. But they had to win the confidence of the peasants to 
obtain food, to protect themselves from dictator Fulgencio Batista's spies 
and soldiers, to gain new recruits. As the months passed, the relations be- 
tween them and the peasants took on a new dimension. The crying poverty, 
illiteracy, disease and primitivism of the outcast peasants appalled the young 
city-bred ex-Students. Out of this experience, partly practical and partly 
emotional, came a determination to revolutionize Cuban society by raising 
the lowest and most neglected sector to a civilized level of well-being and 
human dignity. 

But, for over a year, Castro's fighting force was so small that he did not 
expect to overthrow Batista from the mountains. 2 Victory was foreseen 
through the vastly larger resistance movement in the cities, overwhelmingly 
middle class in composition. This calculation was behind the ill-fated general 
strike of April 9, 1958. 3 It failed because the middle class could not carry 
off a general strike. Only the workers and trade unions could do so, and 
they refused mainly for two reasons: they were doing too well under Batista 
to take the risk, and the official Cuban Communists deliberately sabotaged 
the strike because they had not been consulted and no attempt was made to 
reach an agreement with them in advance. Without the key transport workers 
under Communist leadership, the strike was doomed. The National Com- 
mittee of the Communist party, known since the last war as the Partido 
Socialista Popular, issued a statement (on April 12, 1958), a copy of which 
I have seen, blaming the fiasco on the "unilateral call" for the strike by 
the leadership of Castro's 26th of July Movement in Havana under Faustino 

x. Ca&tro himself described his isolated and ncar-desperat* situation In his letter of December 51st, 1S3T, 
to the . w ca S Council of Liberation- "For those who are Uclitine gainst an anny Incomparable In • ™ber 
Sdte^nrfl without mr support durlw a whole :ear other than the dim ty ^ r ^'' ch "? ""^S* f £ 
a raiion whluh we lovo *lnccrelT and the conrlct on that it la worth while W die foi »t. bitterly forttotten Dt 
ftfS£ra£nan JbJ. TSS™»«£* .11 the w V > ind »iu, 1.™ , Bpu-matl^ly (not to »ay gria, inaUyi 
JwiU-rl an choir helu " The entire document Is contained In J ales Dubois' "Fids! CairtTO 1 1033 > . to UUS 

A. Castro's manlftHto of March 12th, 1&58. reads in part: ". . : 2. That th» rtrmtcgr of th& WW St"** 
should bo based cm tho nmmal revolutionary strike, to bs seconded by uiUltary action. . , . 
*■ Declrvftclonca del F.8.P.. 12 de abrll d* 1558. 

In the mountains at this time, Mills was told ? the arme<l men under Castro 
numbered only about 300. Four months later, in August 1958, the two 
columns commanded by Majors Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, entrusted 
with the mission of cutting the island in two, the biggest single rebel opera- 
tion of the entire struggle, amounted, according to Guevara, to 220 men." 
Sartre was informed that the total number of harbudos in a][ Cuba from 
beginning to end was only 3,000. Castro's fighting force was until the end 
so minute that it hardly deserves to be called an army, let alone a "peasant 
army," and even the influx of the last four or five months failed to give it 
anything like a mass character. In -any case, the character of an army is 
established by its leadership and cadres, which remained exclusively middle 
class throughout, and not by its common soldiers — or every army in the 
world would similarly be an army of the peasantry and proletariat. 

How could such a small band "defeat" Batista's Army of over 40,000? 

The answer is that it did not defeat Batista's Army in any military sense. 
It succeeded in making Batista destroy himself. Until the spring of 1958, 
life in most of Cuba went on much as usual. But the fiasco of the April 
strike forced Castro to change his tactics. Disappointed in his hopes of a 
mass uprising, he shifted over to full-scale guerrilla warfare — bombings, 
sabotage, hit-and-run raids. Batista's answer to the terror was countertenor. 
The Armv and Secret Police struck back blindly, indiscriminately, sense- 
lessly. The students, blamed as the main trouble makers, were their chief 
victims. It became safer for young men to take to the hills than to walk ir 
the streets. The orgy of murders, tortures and brutalities sent tremors of 
fear and horror through the entire Cuban people and especially the middle- 
class parents of the middle-class students. 

This universal revulsion in the last six months of Batista's rule penetrated 
and permeated his own Army and made it incapable of carrying out the 
offensive which it launched in May against Castro's hideout. As Mills' 
book says, Batista's Army "just evaporated." The engagements between 
the two sides were so few and inconclusive that Batista's abdication caught 
Castro by surprise. The real victor in this struggle was not Castro's "peasant 
army" but the entire Cuban people. The heaviest losses were suffered by the 
largely middle-class urban resistance movement, which secreted the political 
and psychological acids that ate into Batista's fighting force; Sartre was told 
that Batista's Army and police killed 1,000 barbudos in the last clashes in 
the mountains and 19,000 in the urban resistance movement. 

Castro's guerrilla tactics, then, aimed not so much at "defeating" the enemy 
as at inducing him to lose his head, fight terror with counterterror on the 
largest possible scale, and make life intolerable for the ordinary citizen. 
These tactics can be employed by even a few hundred rebels, and they are 
■now being applied against the democratic government of Romulo lietan- 
court in Venezuela. The same terror that Castro used against Batista is now 
being used against Castro. And Castro has responded with counterterror, 
just as Batista did. 

"■ Yerdo Qlivo, October 8, lilfiO. 


THE STRUGGLE for power also helps to answer the question: Was the 
Cuban revolution "betrayed?" The answer obviously depends on what 
revolution one has in mind— the revolution that Castro promised before 
taking power, or the one he has made since taking power. 

Huberman and Sweezy have written: "Fidel had made his promises and 
was determined to carry them out, faithfully and to the letter." But neither 
they, nor Mills, nor Sartre, ever say what these promises were. The oversight 
has been a necessary part of the mythology. 

I have made a brief inventory of the promises, political and economic, 
made by Castro from his "History Will Absolve Me" speech (at his trial in 
1953) to the end of 1953. These promises have already become so embar- 
rassing that some of his literary champions have begun to rewrite history 
(after less than two years!) by avoiding all mention of them. G 

Political: ., , 

• Castro's 1953 speech predicted that the first revolutionary law would n-e 
restoration of the 1940 Constitution and made an allusion to a "government 
of popular election." 

• Castro's manifesto of July 1957, his first political declaration from the 
Sierra Maestra, contained a "formal promise" of general elections at the end 
of one year and an "absolute guarantee" of freedom of information, press, 
and all 'individual and political rights guaranteed by the 1940 Constitution. 

• Castro's letter of December 14, 1957, to the Cuban exiles upheld the 
"prime duty" of the post-Batista provisional government to hold general 
elections and the right of political parties, even during the provisional govern- 
ment, to put forward programs, organize, and participate in the elections. 

■ In an article in Coronet magazine of February 1958, Castro wroie of 
fighting for a "genuine representative government," "truly honest" general 
elections within 12 months, "full and untrammelled" freedom of public in- 
formation and all communication media, and re-establishment of all personal 
and political rights set forth in the 1940 Constitution. The greatest irony is 
that be defended himself against the accusation "of plotting to replace military 
dictatorship with revolutionary dictatorship " 

* Tn his answers to Jules Dubois of May 1958, Castro pledged "full en- 
forcement" of the 1940 Constitution and "a provisional government of 
entirely civilian character that will return the country to normality and hold 
general elections within a period of no more than one year." 
= • In the unity manifesto of July 1958, Castro agreed "to guide our 


p$St%cmm. which mifiUt have put Corn's pnrtaku to a ™^' l !» J™ liBllL 
Mills ¥iju»ly inures tlw whole collection of Castro'a pie-power pledges. 

nation, after the fall of the tyrant, to normality by instituting a brief pro- 
visional government that will lead the country to full constitutional and 
democratic procedures.* 1 


• In the 1953 speech, Castro supported grants of land to small planters 
and peasants, with indemnification to the former owners; the rights of 
workers to share in profits; a greater share of the cane crop to all planters; 
and confiscation of all illegally obtained property. His land reform advocated 
maximum holdings for agricultural enterprises and the distribution of re- 
maining land to farming families; it also provided for encouragement of 
"agricultural cooperatives for the common use of costly equipment, cold 
storage plants, and a single professional technical direction in cultivation 
and breeding." In addition, the speech expressed the intention of national- 
izing the electric and telephone companies. 

• The manifesto of July 1957 defined the agrarian reform as distribution 
of barren lands, with prior indemnification, and conversion of share-croppers 
and squatters into proprietors of the lands worked on. 

• The Coronet article favored a land reform to give peasants clear title 
to the land, with "just compensation of expropriated owners." It declared 
that Castro had no plans for expropriating or nationalizing foreign invest- 
ments and that he had suspended an earlier program to extend government 
ownership to public utilities. On nationalization, he wrote: 

I personally have come to feel that nationalization is, at best a 
cumbersome instrument. It does not seem to make the state any 
stronger, yet it enfeebles private enterprise. Even more importantly, 
any attempt at wholesale nationalization would obviously hamper the 
principal point of our economic platform — industrialization at the 
fastest possible rate. For this purpose, foreign investments will always 
be welcome and secure here. 

• In May 1958, he assured his biographer, Jules Dubois; 

Never has the 26th of July Movement talked about socializing or 
nationalizing the industries. This is simply stupid fear of our revolu- 
tion. We have proclaimed from the first day that we fight for the full 
-enforcement of the Constitution of 1940, whose norms establish guaran- 
tees, rights and obligations for all the elements that have a part in 
production. Comprised therein is free enterprise and invested capital 
as well as many other economic, civic, and political rights. 

• The unity manifesto of July 1958, which was written by Castro, merely 
called for: 

A minimum governmental program that will guarantee the punish- 
ment of the guilty ones, the rights of the workers, the fulfilment of 


international commitments, public order, peace, freedom, as well as 
the economic, social, and political progress of the Cuban people. 

Such were the promises that Fidel had made. The near-unanimity with 
which Castro's victory was accepted in January 1959 was the result not 
merely of his heroic struggle and glamorous beard but of the political 
consensus which he appeared to embody. This consensus had resulted from 
the democratic disappointments of 1944-52 and the Batista despotism of 
1952-53, There was broad agreement that Cuba could never go back to the 
corrupt brand of democracy of the past, and the Cuban middle class was 
ready for deep-going social and political reforms to make impossible another 
Prio Socarras and another Batista. Castro promised to restore Cuban 
democracy and make it work, not a "direct" or "people's" democracy 
but the one associated with the 1940 Constitution which was so radical 
that much of it. especially the provision for agrarian reform, was never 

It is, moreover, unthinkable that Castro could have won power if he had 
given the Cuban people the slightest forewarning of what he has presented 
them with— a wholly government-controlled press and all other means of 
communication, ridicule of elections, wholesale confiscation and socializa- 
tion, "cooperatives" that are (as Huberman and Sweezy admit) virtually 
"slate farms," or a dictatorship of any kind, including that of the proletariat. 
It was precisely the kind of promises Castro made that enabled him to win 
the support of the overwhelming majority of the Cuban middle and other 
classes; a "peasant revolution" would hardly have been expressed in quite 
the same way. 

The least that can be said, therefore, is that Castro promised one kind 
of revolution and made another. The revolution Castro promised was un- 
questionably betrayed. 


THE Castro mythology tends to distort not only the original nature of 
the Cuban revolution but also the character of Cuban society. 
Pages are written by Huberman and Sweezy about the peasantry, a 
single paragraph about the working class, and almost nothing about the 
middle class. Mills never seems to have made up his mind which Cubans 
were speaking through him. Judging hy his own list of the Cubans who 
spoke to him, there was not a worker, and certainly not a peasant, in the 
lot. Without exception, his informants were middle-class intellectuals and 
professionals of the type in power. Sometimes he makes them speak in their 
own name; more often they masquerade as the most impoverished and 
miserable of Cuban peasants. They say, "we squatted on the edge of the 
road in our filthy huts," as if they were the "we" and as if this was typical 
of all Cubans. The average reader might imagine that Cuba was nothing 
but "a place of misery and filth, illiteracy and exploitation, and sloth." 
This may be a triumph of propaganda but it is a travesty of sociology. 


Cuba before Castro was, indeed, a country with serious social problems, 
but it was far from being a peasant country or even a typically "under- 
developed" one. Its population was more urban than rural: 57 per cent in 
the urban areas and 43 per cent in tbe rural, with the trend strongly in 
favor of the former (according to the Geogra/ia de Cuba written by Antonio 
Nuiiez Jimenez, tbe present director of the Agrarian Reform Institute) . 
The people dependent on agriculture for a living made up about 40 per cent, 
and of these over one-quarter were classified as farmers and ranchers. In 
1954, the national income was divided as follows; the sugar industry, agri- 
cultural and industrial, 25 per cent; other agriculture, 13 per cent; other 
industry and commerce, 40 per cent; everything else, 21 per cent. 

The standard of living, low by U.S. and West European standards, was 
comparatively high by Latin American; only three countries, Venezuela, 
Argentina and Chile, rated above Cuba in per capita income; Cuba's was 
almost as high as Italy's and much higher than Japan's. Cuba ranked fifth 
in Latin America jn manufacturing, behind Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and 
Chile. Cuba had one automobile for every 39 inhabitants (in Argentina, 60; 
Mexico, 91; Brazil, 158), and one radio for every five inhabitants (second 
to Argentina, with one out of three). Cuban tourists were able to spend 
more in the United States than American tourists spent in Cuba. After 
World War II, Cuban interests were strong enough to buy a substantial 
share of U.S.-owned sugar production which fell from 70-80 per cent of 
the total at its high point in the 1930s to about 35 per cent in 1958. Govern- 
ment encouragement of "Cubanization" would easily have cut the figure in 
half again in a short time under a post-Batista democratic regime. 

I am not trying to suggest that Cuba's economy was a healthy one. It 
was precariously dependent on the fluctuations of a single crop, sugar, which 
accounted for more than 80 per cent of Cuban exports and employed about 
a half million workers for only three to four months a year. As the rates 
of illiteracy show — 41.7 per cent in the rural areas and only 11.6 per cent 
in the urban areas — the social development of Cuba was shockingly un- 
balanced in favor of the cities and towns, and Castro's crusade for the 
peasantry has repaid the Cuban upper and middle classes for decades of 
indifference to the welfare of the land workers. 

But this is not the same thin?; as implying (as Mills often does) that 
Cuba was nothing but a land of backward, illiterate, diseased, starving 
peasants. When he writes, "We speak Spanish, we are mainly rural, and 
we are poor," the first statement is undoubtedly correct, the second is 
demonstrably false, and the third is partly true. Cuba was one of the most 
middle-class countries in Latin America. 

In effect, this mythology of the Cuban social structure makes Castro's 
victory inexplicable. If a "handful" of middle-class "students and intel- 
lectuals" had the active support of only a few hundred or even a few 
thousand peasants, without either the working or middle classes (as Mills 
maintains), the Batista regime would never have toppled. It was the desertion 
of the middle class — on which Batista's power was based — {hat caused his 
regime to disintegrate from within and bis Army to evaporate. 




Castro's "betrayal" of the Cuban revolution has also taken another 

When Batista fell, two movements entered into competition— Castro's 
26th of July Movement (named after the elate of his first unsuccessful at- 
tempt in 1953) and the official Communist party, the Partido Socialista 
Popular. The odds seemed to favor the former overwhelmingly. In his 
first victory address at Camp Liberty, Castro spoke of the popular sympathy 
and almost unanimous support of the Cuban youth which the 26th of July 
Movement enjoyed, and he appeared to argue that there was no need for 
any other movement. 

But a different fate soon awaited the 26th oF July Movement. The reason, 
as it was explained to Mine, de Beauvoir, is most revealing: 

The 26lh of July Movement, from which the revolution issued, had 
an apparatus, but a petty-bourgeois one, which could not follow the 
revolution in the radicalization that has been proceeding since the 
taking of power; it was not capable of going along with the advance 
of the agrarian reform. So it was permitted to fall away. 

Mme. de Beauvoir passes on this information without the slightest in- 
dication that there might have been something unwholesome in this pro- 
cedure. But apart from the justification for Castro's decision to eviscerate 
his own movement, she confirms the middle-class character of that move- 
ment and Castro's political reason for condemning it to a nominal existence 
—the difference between its revolution and his. 

Not so long ago also, there was no higher honor in Castro's Cuba than 
to belong to the rebel army. It was the chief basis of Castro's rule; army 
men actually ran the country through ostensibly civilian organizations, such 
as the Agrarian Reform Institute. When Huberman and Swcezy first visited 
Cuba last March, they reported that "from January 1, 195% to this day the 
real power has always been in the revolutionary army, manned and nourished 
by as radical a social class as any in the world today" — the Cuban peasantry. 
But on their second visit six months later, they noted the "(relative) 
eclipse" of the rebel army and the officially inspired rise of the large, 
amorphous militia. Indeed, in their December 1960 article, they no longer 
refer to it as the rebel army; it bad become the "regular army." Instead 
of the "truly most remarkable relations of solidarity, trust, and under- 
standing" between Castro and the army at the time of their book, they 
intimated that it had become a potential counterrevolutionary force, typical 
of Latin American "standing armies." Once the rebel army's peasant charac- 
ter had been its greatest glory; now it had apparently become a serious 
drawback. Bohemia Libre, the edition in exile of Cuba's most famous maga- 
zine, has gone so far as to say editorially that the rebel army "already does 
not exist." In any case, it has gone the way of the 26th of July Movement. 


The fate of David Salvador, the outstanding labor leader of the 26th 
of July Movement, tells the same story. Before Batista fell, Salvador rep- 
resented the underground group, "Labor Unity," and coordinated the resist- 
ance within the working class. At a time when the pfficial Cuban Commu- 
nists opposed Castro as a "putschist," Salvador believed in him and in 
the last period of Batista's rule went to jail for his underground activity. After 
the victory, he took over the leadership of the Cuban labor movement for 
the 26th of July Movement and served as secretary general of the Cuban 
trade union federation. At its national congress in November 1959, however, 
Salvador's fortunes suddenly changed. The 26th of July Movement would 
have scored an overwhelming victory over the Communists, if Fidel Castro 
himself had not unexpectedly appeared at the congress, berated the dele- 
gates for "having given proof neither of prudence, nor of unity, nor of 
anything," and demanded, in effect, the installation of a triumvirate in the 
federation's leadership, including the pro-Communist candidate, Jesus Solo, 
The real leader soon became Soto, not Salvador, whom the Communist organ, 
Hoy, began to attack openly for bis "strange attitude." 

With his family, David Salvador was caught in November 1960 trying 
to escape from Cuba in a small boat, and he has again been cast inlo prison, 
this time by Batista's successor, Fidel Castro. The trade unions have lost 
even the bargaining power they had under Batista; they have become 
propaganda appendages of the Ministry of Labor which makes all de- 
cisions on wages and conditions, Soviet-style. 

What does all this mean? In his own 26th of July Movement, in the 
rebel army and in the labor movement, Castro has shunted aside the very 
ones who helped him in the struggle for power. He has done so, as Mme. de 
Beauvoir has hinted, because they were led to expect a different revolution 
from the one he is making. The 26th of July Movement was sacrificed first 
because it was the embryo of a political party. It could grow into a full- 
fledged party or become an empty shell. The rebel army has never recovered 
from the shock of Castro's persecution of one of his closest former comrades- 
in-arms, Major Hubert Matos, who was sentenced to 20 years* imprisonment 
for having protested against the favoritism shown to Communists in the 
army. As Mills remarks in Listen, Yankee I, "that was the biggest 

The "mass assemblies'* and amorphous militias now suit Castro's pur- 
poses better because they are so impersonal and anonymous. The individuals 
in ihe outdoor spectacles have a direct relationship only to Castro personally, 
not to each other. The demonstrations are as "democratic" as Hitler's Nurem- 
berg rallies and Mussolini's balcony speeches once were. 

The 26th of July Movement and the rebel army were more than Castro's 
personal emanations; their members were bound by a cause for which they 
had fought and sacrificed together. That cause went back to a period before 
Castro's personal rule and to a revolution waged against personal rule. 
That Castro could not live with the 26ih of July Movement and the rebel 
army is more than faintly reminiscent of Stalin's need to abolish ihe Society 
of Old Bolsheviks. 



Lukewarm lemonade helped Jean-Paul Sartre to understand the nature 
of Castro's "democracy." 

One day, as he tells the story, Castro invited Mme. de Beauvoir and him- 
self on an "inspection tour" of the Veradero beach. Soon the party stopped 
at a little refreshment stand. Castro offered them some lemonade. He started 
to drink some himself, put down his glass, and said loudly: "It's lukewarm.'* 
Then the following dialogue ensued: 

"Don't you have refrigerators?" Castro asked. 

"Sure we do." the waitress said. "But they don't work." 

"Have you reported it to your superior? 5 ' 

"Of course, last week. And it isn't a big job," she added familiarly. "An 
electrician could do it in two hours of work. 5 ' 

"And no one has been ordered to make the repairs?" 

She shrugged her shoulders, "You know how it is," she added. 

And this is Sartre's comment on the scene: 

"It was the first time that T understood — still somewhat vaguely — what 
I called the other day 'direct democracy.' Between the waitress and Castro, 
an immediate secret understanding {connivence) was established. . . ." 

Castro was not yet satisfied. Sartre relates how Castro insisted on going 
over to the delinquent refrigerator and vainly tried to fix it himself. At 
length, Castro turned to the young waitress and muttered: "Tell your 
superiors that if they don't get busy on their problems, they will have 
problems with me," 

One reads and wonders. Could it really be that this banal and somewhat 
embarrassing little scene convinced the famous and worldly French phi- 
losopher that Castro's Cuba was—not an ordinary kind of democracy but 
— a "direct democracy?" Involuntarily, my mind went back to some ex- 
periences in the Dominican Republic a few years ago. There, too, the 
Lider Maximo, who prefers being called El Jefe, liked to visit his domain, 
see his subjects personally and settle problems on the spot. 7 To my dismay, 
I discovered that there was much to be said for his regime in purely physical 
terms, that the peasants worshipped him, that he could have won honest 
elections quite as overwhelmingly as his fixed elections, and that the only 
ones who seemed disturbed were a few intellectuals and other dubious middle- 
class characters. It was easy to imagine the same scene played by El Jefe, 
the young waitress, lukewarm lemonade, nnd the refrigerator that wouldn't 
work, except perhaps that El Jefe, having had much more time, no longer 
permitted lukewarm lemonade under any circumstances. But the greatest 
blow of all came one day when I entered into a philosophical discussion with 
a leading official and asked whether El Jefe's unique system had a name. 
Gravely and courteously, he answered: "neo-democracy." I must have flushed 
in anger. If only they would leave "democracy" alone! If Generalissimo 

Ti Onn of Castro'a titles ia also 
official newsnarier, "Revalue! 6 n," 

"El ,7o.fe do la BeTOlueUSn," aa on the front pnjui or the leading seml- 
Ucmnbcr 10, 19C0. TIlc same Issue contains two "lldor lufixlaio." 


Rafael Leonidaa TrujiiJo was the leader of a democracy, even a "neo- 
democracy," who was not? 

At bottom, all these "neo" and "direct" democracies rest on a simple 
proposition: that the Leader and his people are one and indivisible. Hence 
tnev need no representative institutions, no elections, no loyal or disloyal 
oppositions, no free or partially critical press, none of the rights and safe- 
guards traditionally associated with a democracy. 

The horror of this thinking is that it wipes out the lessons to be learned 
Irom the most desperate and tragic experiences of our time. If there is 
anything that should have burned itself into our consciousness, it is the 
excruciating evil of the popular despot, the beloved dictator, the mass Leader 
lhe connivence which Sartre imagined between Castro and the waitress 
existed between Hitler and a too Iar-e portion of the German people and 
between Trupllo and an even larger portion of the Dominican people. More 
horrible still is the fact that, with the whole modern machinery of propaganda 
at their disposal, the Leaders can manufacture a reasonable facsimile of 
popular consent even if they may not have it to start out with. Is it necessary 
at this late date to recall these terrible lessons to Jean-Paul Sartre? Could he 
have survived the "direct democracy" that he recommends to the Cubans? 
Castro s "democracy" poses awkward problems for all his apologists. Their 
argument runs: (a) Castro could win any election overwhelmingly and 
therefore, (h) elections are unnecessary or harmful and ? anyway,*" (c) all 
previous Cuban elections were crooked. Here, again, it seems necessary 
to recall the ABC of democracy to people who pride themselves on being the 
only real democrats. The democratic mandate is not one that once given 
cannot be revoked; it is of the essence of democratic consent that it must 
be periodically renewed. Most observers estimated Castro's popular support 
at 90 per cent or more in January 1959, and at 75 per cent or more a year 
later, but it may well be, as some claim, that the figure has been cut to 
o0 per cent or less at the present time. It is no longer certain that he could 
Win any election overwhelmingly or at all. 

There have been three stages in Castro's attitude towards elections. First 
he promised them. Then he said they were not immediately feasible. Now he 
ridicules them. In effect, he once said: "Cuba has never had an honesl 
election and a truly free press. I will show Cuba how to have them." Now 
he says: "Cuba has never had an honest election and a truly free press 
Therefore, Cuba has no right to have them under me." Here, in essence, are 
the two revolutions of Fidel Castro. 

The problem of elections is evaded by the counteroffer of something even 
better. Huberman and Sweezy write: "What we do maintain is that the 
revolution itself gives the Government a far more democratic mandate than 
the freest of free elections ever could, and that it is the sacred duty of the 
Government to carry out the oft-announced platform of the revolution before 
it comes back to the people asking for either approval or further instructions." 
What revolution? What platform? The revolution to restore the Constitution 
of 1940 and hold elections in 12-18 months? Or the revolution against the 
Constitution and against elections for an indefinite period? How can the 


Government come back to the people for "approval" and "further instructions" 
when it has never once gone to them for approval or instructions? 

The reference to the "oft-announced platform of the revolution" is simply 
incredible. Huberman and Sweezy might have been less tempted to make 
it if they had not successfully avoided stating that platform. They themselves 
lell a story which belies it. According to them, the first draft of the agrarian 
reform law contained no provision for cooperatives. All the revolutionaries 
around Castro believed that the peasants were not ready for them. The 
decision to have them was made by Castro alone against the better judgment 
of his closest advisers and adherents. By Huberman and Sweezy's own 
admission, then, Castro did not carry out "the oft-announced platform of the 
revolution" as anyone else had understood it in this key area; he carried 
out a basic revision of that platform to the surprise of everyone but Fidel 
Castro. 8 

But there is something even more deeply objectionable to this reasoning. 
It implies that anyone who claims to possess the true idea of the revolution 
confers on himself a more democratic mandate than any of the people, even 
in the freest of free elections, can give him. The next step — and revolutionists 
have taken it— is to say that it is "democratic" to make the revolution without 
the people or despite the people— in, of course, the people's interest. Out of 
such revolutions have invariably come the worst tyrannies. 


WHILE SOME writers see everything but Communism in Castro, others 
see nothing but Communism. The most extreme version of this second 
school of thought may be found in the book, Red Star Over Cuba, by Nathaniel 
WeyL Weyl knew the international Communist movement from the inside 
during the 1930s — he has testified that he once belonged to the same American 
party unit as Alger Hiss — and he has also written a book on Mexico's 
agrarian reform under ex-President Lazaro Cardenas. There is no indication, 

rTFhc pr-^iit-ilav Cuban "cooperatives" are usually traced bad; to Castro's "History will Absolve Mo" 
speech In 1053. A careful reading of the key passage in thut speech hardly beam this out. 

"A revolutionary poveminent, after transferring the ownerghlj) of parcels or land to the one 
hundred nuiii-iiihl small runners who today pay runt. would proceed to n, definite solution ol the 
Unci ijnmlpiii hv, first: cslabllshinn. ns the Constitution orders, s maximum anrcaKQ for each type 
of BBrUmUural 'enterprlan and acnulrlnR lhe WCesa acreage, by means of expropriation, recover tir 
lanria iismixvl front the. State, filling In swuinu and marsh lands, jihunllng Tost tracts and nssciiat 
zone* for rderwlntmn; H.dmd, rTUrlnutliir: Hit- rwiMinin^ bind ntnonc fiirmtrir. fitmlli™ With welM- 
flucfl fflven rn the largest ones, encMiraglnjt ngrioultural COOperatkoa for tho common uhc of costly 
equipment, cold storage, and a uniform professional dilution In cultivation and breeding, and. 
finally, to facilitate assistance, nnnipnient, urotwtlon, and useful Imowtadn to t»c farming population 
[ "FcnRanilaiUo Tolltioo, Econdmloo y Social du FLde] Castro," Editorial Lw, Havana. Jt»n.a, pp. 44-45). 

haw purposely translated UlIf runnm in its literal form in orflnr to elw the reader a- mm of 
i coon mat. Ives helonKed In tlm total se.lieme of Castro's 1303 MfiOTllturfll P.olley- They idiv oi.i-,l> 

where cooperatives belonged 



occupied * minor pliinn in the penerol Bcliema; they were Intended, In Iho traditional meaning of ca- 
to service Independent landowners These lflliS cooperatives were cleatJy not the stiite farms 

o: infill In addition. Castro aeonm to ha™ dropped or rarely mentioned "ewparatlvea after 11*53. 

The version of this passage Ijl the ITnhnrnian-Swee/y bOOK (p. 41) 1* taken froiii Hie otilcinl wwA 
translation of this ane™ii. uuMlshed by the Liberal Prwa, New York. For some reason, tho phrase for 
the common iisn of nnstlv equipment, cold nfnmini" was oinltlori from this transhinmi im a. result or 
vhleh trie whole section on cooper atiTOH is somewhat distorted. In lOaS. f.iwfro s n-Erarljni n-iuvm 
meant what it has usuallv meant: land for landless pensnnta. Rut. then, llubemiart mid swemj- dWmvored. 
via a translator, that Cuban peasants do not want tl«nr own land; they did not bvwi understand the 
nm-dlon of owning their nmi hmd "unlll It hart been r-pcatodly rephrased and explained (p. 1(1, note). 
llnlierman and Swwbt add that this Incident set them off on their entire interpretation of ho flubim 
iKwnluHnnl If so, lhe Cnlmn priunlUa are truly milium, and no one Hppurenrly ever umler.iumd them neforo 
—certainly not Fidel Cafltro who put HO much ompb&slg on Riving them thfir own land in lOBB and alter. 


however, that he has had a personal knowledge of Cuba in the last two years 
or at any other time. 

Much of Weyl's hook 5 s based on police and intelligence sources, such as 
the Batista regime's Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities 
(BRAC.) A lurid series of articles in a sensation-mongering New York 
tabloid is treated as if it were a serious historical source. The recklessness 
with which Weyl uses his materials, good, bad and dubious, is matched 
by that of his views. These range from the conviction that Fidel Castro has 
been "a trusted Soviet agent" since 1948, when he was little more than 21 
years old, to the imputation that Cuba was lost to Communism by "appease- 
ment-oriented" officials of the State Department. The implicit thesis of the 
book was stated by Senators James Eastland (D.-Miss.) and Thomas Dodd 
(D.-Corm.) of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, whom Weyl 
quotes: "Cuba was handed to Castro and the Communists by a combination 
of Americans in the same way that China was handed to the Communists." 
In effect, this is the extreme "right-wing'' case against Castro and those who 
allegedly put him into power. 

Weyl's methods hardly inspire confidence in his results. He makes some 
members of the State Department the butt of his indignation for having 
failed to accept the evidence that Castro has been a Communist and Soviet 
agent for a dozen years. But, for some reason, he fails to mention that 
General C. P. Cabell, Deputy Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 
testified in November 1959 before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee 
(one of his favorite sources) that "we believe that Castro is not a member 
of the Communist party, and does not consider himself to be a Communist." 
Presumably the CIA had gone to some trouble to find out all about Castro's 
past political allegiances and was less riddled than the State Department with 
"appeasement-minded subordinates" (Weyl's phrase for then Under Secretary 
Christian Herter, Assistant Secretary for Latin American Affairs, Roy R, 
Rubottom, and Director of the Caribbean Division William A. Wieland). 
The CIA may have been wrong, but its evaluation of the evidence certainly 
has a bearing on Weyl's case against members of the State Department with 
a similar view. 

Weyl, however, cites the testimony before the Senate Internal Security 
Subcommittee of Raphael Diaz Balart (Castro's former brother-in-law), who 
worked for Batista to the end. He writes that Diaz Balart gave "basically 
the same account" as that of Dr. Emilio Nunez Portuondo, Batista's former 
Prime Minister, who declared that "Fidel Castro subordinated himself to 
Communist party discipline during his first year at the University (1945-46) 
and used his Party name of Fidelio." Weyl then quotes those portions of 
Diaz Balart's testimony which indicate that Castro and the Communist 
students had had "a very nice understanding" about helping each other. But 
he does not quote Diaz Balart's direct assertion: "No, he was not in that 
moment a member. He was just in that moment an opportunist leader who 
wanted to promote himself." Basically Diaz Balart gave anything but the 
same account as Nunez Portuondo. 

Weyl also plays fast and loose in his references to Communist money 



allegedly put at Castro's disposal in the Sierra Maestra. He quotes from the 
articles by two newspapermen in the New York Daily News: " 'Once ' said a 
man who was close to Fidel, 'Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, an active member of 
the Communist party in Cuba, arrived with a dozen men loaded with money. 
It came to $800,000 and Fidel hugged him and shouted, 'Now we're ready 
to win the war/ " Thus Weyl quotes two newspapermen who quote "a man 
who was dose to Fidel." But some 30 pages later, Weyl writes: "We have 
seen that Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, who was not only a member of the Political 
Bureau of the Cuban Communist party, but its brains, went to the Sierra 
Maestra to bring Fidel Castro almost a million dollars." There is no doubt 
about Rafael Rodriguez' journey to the Sierra Maestra in June 19.58— he 
readily admitted it to me when I talked to him last spring— but only a 
reader with a short memory would "have seen" that Rafael Rodriguez had 
brought Fidel Castro almost a million dollars. Perhaps he did, but the 
evidence is third-hand at best. Nevertheless, Weyl goes on to assert that 
"Fidel Castro's forces won primarily because they had almost unlimited 
supplies of money." 

How much more complex Cuban politics can he than Weyl appears to 
make it may be gathered from his reference to Raul Roa. Weyl writes that 
one of the Cuban Communist party's "charter members and early leaders 
was Raul Roa, whom Fidel Castro would later appoint Foreign Minister of 
Cuba,' 7 That is all From this a reader might suppose that Roa was just 
another Communist functionary in Castro's entourage. But Roa has had a 
rather more varied political career. He wrote an article in Mexico in 1956 
denouncing "the crimes, disasters and outrages perpetrated" by the Soviet 
"invaders" in Hungary. This article, together with other uncomplimentary 
references to Communism, were reprinted in his book, En Pie, issued by an 
official publishing house in Cuba in October 1959. The Communist leader, 
Bias Roca, in the official Communist organ, Hoy, of March 11, 1959, 
denounced Roa as a platlista—the historical equivalent of an "agent of 
American imperialism." 9 Yet Roa has become a servile spokesman of the 
Communism and Soviet Union which he had many times condemned. He has 
never, however, completely won the trust of the Communists, one of whom 
has been put in as his Under Secretary. 

Weyl also identifies Faustino Peres as a Communist on the basis of 
Batista's sources. The official Cuban Communists have always blamed Perez 
(the leader of the former Havana underground) for the failure of the April 
1958 strike on the ground that he refused to make a deal with them. They 
took their revenge in November 1959 when he was ousted from Castro's 
Government for protesting against the treatment of Major Hubert Matos. 
Weyl even cites a "Cuban underground" report that Matos worked for the 
Communists "as early as 1957," without saying a word about the price 
Matos has paid for his anti-Communism. Such blunders are inevitable in 

i^™i°'< °£^° ?.- PIatt f £™ his "«» to fl« famous amendment wliifih empowernrt the V H to 
EtfTS t'gStaFS Cuba S ™ t0r FUtt ' B ** B * ma "* the dBt * * hlB «^™TS^* eJSS 


a hook which accepts Batista's and Trujillo's sources uncritically. Communists, 
ex-Comm musts, non-Communists and opportunists are indiscriminately 
lumped together. Every bit of evidence that does not fit the hook's thesis 
is ruthlessly suppressed or glossed over. All the hard problems of Castro s 
political developments are over-simplified and vulgarized. 

Sometimes a reader of both the Mills and Weyl hooks might he hopelessly 
puzzled. Mills' Yankee is taunted with the question, "What did you do- 
about the weapons, for example, the Yankee Government kept sending— and 
sending — and sending — to Batista?" But in Weyl's hook, former Ambassador 
Earl E. T. Smith says of the United States' decision to stop sending arms to 
Batista in March 1958, that "the psychological impact on the morale of the 
government was crippling." In his recent book, Respuesta (Reply), published 
in Mexico, Fulgencio Batista also complains bitterly against the harmful 
effect of the U.S. embargo on arms, A reader of Mills' hook would never 
know that the arms had ever been cut off. A reader of Weyl's book would 
never know that the effect of the arms embargo was partially undone by 
the failure to withdraw the military mission. 

Weyl's chief American scapegoat is Herbert L. Matthews of the New York 
Times. In February 1957, Matthews published three articles and photographs 
which proved that Castro was alive, and he vouched for his idealism, courage, 
and innocence of Communism. The chief count against William Wieland 
seems to be that he advised the newly -appointed Ambassador Smith to be 
briefed by Matthews before assuming his post. Rubottom's main misdeed 
appears to have been that he told a Senate subcommittee on December 31, 
1958, the day before Batista's flight, that "there was no evidence of any 
organized Communist element within the Castro movement or that Sefior 
Castro himself was under Communist influence." As if this were not trouble 
enough for Rubottom, he also stands accused of having been the protege of 
Dr. Milton Eisenhower, whom Weyl brushes ofT as "a well-intentioned, vaguely 
Leftist, former New Deal bureaucrat." 

Ambassador Smith's briefing by Matthews, which promises to become a 
minor cause celebre in some circles of American politics, runs true to form 
in Weyl's book. On checking, I found that Ambassador Smith had testified: 
"I spent six weeks in Washington, approximately four days of each week, 
visiting various agencies and being briefed by the State Department and 
those whom the State Department designated." He also said that "in the 
course of six weeks I was briefed by numbers of people in the usual course 
as every Ambassador is briefed." One of these people, suggested by Wieland, 
was Matthews. Weyl converts this testimony to; "Ambassador Smith made 
the remarkable disclosure that Wieland sent him to none other than Herbert 
Matthews to get bis briefing on Cuban affairs before departing for bis post 
in Havana." Thus "a" briefing is transformed into "his" briefing, as if 
Matthews were the only one to brief Smith. And it is hard to understand 
what is remarkable about the recommendation of Matthews in May 1957, 
among many others, since at the lime he was one of the very few Americans 
who had talked to Fidel Castro. 

Some other testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, 
which Weyl does not quote, might not have been irrelevant. According to 



Batista's commander in the Sierra Maestra area. Colonel Ugalde Carrillo, his 
forces there numbered 6,000 to 7.000. He estimated Castro's men at 700 to 
£00* In addition, Batista's Army contained more than 33,000 men elsewhere. 
This force of over 40,000 bad for years obtained as much arms as it had 
wanted from the United States and elsewhere. The American Ambassador 
from 1953 to the middle of 1957, Arthur Gardner, was so "pro-Batista" that, 
as Mrs. Ruby Hart Phillips (the long-time New York Times correspondent 
in Havana) has written in her recent book, the dictator was ^.mbarrassed 
because he thought that the Ambassador was overdoing it. Despite Matthews' 
remarkable briefing, Gardner's successor, Earl Smith, was so "anti-Castro" 
that his subordinates pleaded with him in vain to be less partisan. And 
despite Matthews' pro-Castro artit es of February 1957, Castro's entire force 
14 months later numbered only 300 (according to Mills) and at most 800 
(-according to Ugalde). 

The forces at Batista^s disposal were to the very end so superior in numbers 
and weapons that only a vast popular revulsion can account for Batista's 
debacle. Batista's Chief-of-Staff s General Francisco Tabernilla, came much 
closer to the truth when he was asked whether the Army could have 
successfully resisted Castro's march on Havana. "It could," he replied, "but 
not for a long time, because by that time, the people of Cuba were already 
against the regime of Batista, and there is no army, once the people get up 
in arms, that can suppress it." 

Herbert Matthews has expressed his latest views in the Hispanic American 
Report (August 29, I960, Stanford University). He has evidently been 
saddened by the development of Castro's regime into "a dictatorship, without 
freedom, under the control of one man." He maintains: "Despite strong 
resemblances, it is not Marxism, Communism or Fascism, but it is getting 
close to a totalitarian structure of some sort." Yet, even as Matthews wrote 
these words, Guevara was characterizing the Cuban revolution as implicitly 
"Marxist." Matthews also continues to resist the evidence of Castro's deliberate 
policy of aid-and-comfort to the official Communists. For example, he declares 
that "Fidel played into their hands unwittingly from the beginning by 
allowing his 26th of July Movement, which had made and won the revolution, 
to wither away. This left a vacuum into which the Reds naturally moved." 
Unwittingly? It was, as has been admitted, a cold-blooded decision, no more 
unwitting than the more recent one to "allow" the rebel army to wither away. 
Unlike some pro-Castro apologists, however, Matthews does not pooh-pooh 
the possibility of Communist domination. On the contrary, he regards it as 
so far advanced that "the point of no return does not seem far away." But 
in his anxiety to absolve Castro himself of the prime responsibility, he 
sometimes argues that Castro's pro-Communist policy was logical, sometimes 
that he blundered into it, and sometimes that he was pushed into it. In effect, 
Matthews' faith in Castro has dimmed but not died, and he is still capable 
of writing: "Paradoxical though it may seen, Americans should be praying 
that nothing happens to Fidel Castro. Any hope of changing the situation 
for the better lies with him." 



ON ONE thing Mills, Johnson and Weyl almost agree. For Mills, Castro's 
regime is "a revolutionary dictatorship of the peasants and workers." 
For Johnson, it is a "genuine dictatorship of the proletariat." For Weyl, it is 
"a dictatorship of the proletariat." What can these long-suffering, ill-defined 
words mean in relation to Cuba today? 

When I visited Cuba last spring, the Cabinet — a fair sampling of the 
top leadership — was made up of eight lawyers, three former students, two 
professors, one architect, one engineer and the like. Most of them still 
hold the same offices or have been replaced by people of the same type. 
Everyone attended a university (some in the United States), came from 
upper- or middle-class homes, and became or aspired to become a professional 
or intellectual. Not a single one represents in any conceivable sense the 
peasantry or proletariat^ or owes his position to its organized strength or 
pressure. What they are they owe solely to Fidel Castro, and they are 
responsible to him alone. This much is recognized by Mills who flatly states 
that Castro possesses "virtually absolute power" in Cuba today. But where 
does that leave the "dictatorship of the peasants and workers?" 

Reflecting on the situation as they saw it in the spring of i960, Hubeiman 
and Sweezy gave the peasantry the decisive role in the victorious revolution. 
made Castro the "embodiment of the revolutionary will and energy of the 
peasantry," and extolled the Cuban peasantry as "perhaps one of the world's 
most deeply revolutionary classes" and "as radical a social class as any in 
the world today." Six months later they returned to Cuba and discovered 
that the peasantry had been superseded as the "most revolutionary class" by 
the working class and that the peasant-manned and -nourished rebel arm) 1 
had suffered a relative eclipse. They were delighted in the spring and they 
were enchanted in the fall; the peasant revolution was wonderful and the 
swift dispossession of the peasant revolution was even more so. But why the 
peasantry should have been superseded if it really was "as radical a social 
class as any in the world today," they do not try to explain. It is conceivable 
that the class which had really made the revolution, which the Lider Maximo 
embodied^ and which was perhaps the most deeply revolutionary class in the 
world today, would permit itself to be pushed into the background without 
a word of protest or token of resistance? Is this the behavior of a class 
towards its revolution? 

The process thus conjured up is clearly mythological. Those who "gave" 
the revolution to the peasantry could also take it away. The peasantry never 
had in its hands any of the levers of command of the revolution, before or 
after the victory. The revolution was made and always controlled by declassed 
eons and daughters of the middle class, first in the name of the entire people, 
then of the peasants, and now of the workers and peasants. At most the 
revolution is doing things for and to the peasants and workers. The good 
and evil in these things may be open to debate, but who decides these things 
and to what class they belong are not. For Marx, the notion that the peasants 
would have been the driving force of a socialistic revolution would have 


been simply unthinkable; the idea that the working class would have to be 
swept" into a socialist revolution after it had been made by another class 
and as a mechanical result of nationalization from above, equally so. 

The alleged role of the working class in this revolution is just as fanciful 
as that attributed to the peasantry. In December a few hundred authentic 
proletarians employed by the Cuban Electric Company staged a protest 
march from union headquarters to the Presidential Palace. The rank-and-file 
was discontented because the new management of the nationalized electric 
company had cracked down on privileges long tolerated under the dictatorship 
and thereby had reduced its standard of living. The leadership, headed by an 
old 26th of July militant, was enraged because the central Trade Union 
Federation (now completely controlled by the Communists) had moved to 
oust it. The rebellion was, quelled by the flight of the union leaders to foreign 
embassies and a long, angry speech by Prime Minister Castro. He admitted 
that a large part not only of the electric workers but of the mass of workers 
in general was "confused.' 5 He scorned those who would exchange "the right 
of the working class to govern and direct the country for a plate of lentils." 
At one point, he declared; "Do you know what is the first goal for which 
the working class should fight, the only goal for which a working class in a 
modern country should fight fundamentally? For the conquest of political 


This speech was noteworthy for the political vocabulary employed for the 
first time by Castro, but it told much more about him than about the Cuban 
proletariat. Would it be necessary to exhort the proletariat to take power in 
a "dictatorship of the proletariat?" And if it followed his advice, would all 
the lawyers in Castro's Government remain in power? Of all the dictatorships 
of the proletariat which have been bestowed on us in this century. Castro's 
is surely the least convincing. 

Events have also dealt unkindly with Jean-Paul Sartre's clairvoyance. In 
the introduction (dated September 12, 1960) to the Brazilian edition of his 
series of articles on Cuba, he wrote: "No, if Cuba desires to separate from 
the Western bloc, it is not through the crazy ambition of linking itself to the 
Eastern bloc." He also communicated his certainty that "its objective is 
not to strengthen one bloc to the detriment of the other." On December 10, 
Major Guevara was "crazy" enough to announce publicly in Moscow: "We 
wholeheartedly support the statement adopted by this conference [of 81 
Communist parties]." It would be hard to imagine any way of linking Cuba 
more closely to the Eastern bloc or of strengthening that bloc to the detriment 
of the West than the wholehearted support of this statement. 

The attitude of Paul Johnson in the New Stolemon toward Latin America 
in general and Cuba in particular smacks of a peculiar kind of anti-colonial 
colonialism. For him, their basic economic problems cannot be solved 
"through mere electoral victories, since effective legislation requires the 
assent of the armed forces." Therefore, only Fidelismo or Communism- — 
which he regards as "natural enemies" — remain as practical alternatives. In 
the case of Cuba, he seems to have cut the ground under his own argument 
since the armed forces disappeared and the need for their assent vanished 


with them. The main theme of Castro's "History Will Absolve Me" speech 
of 1953 and of all his statements until he assumed power was that Cuba's 
social and economic problems could be solved within the framework of the 
Constitution of 1940. But there was one thing the Constitution excluded — 
the dictatorship of a Lider Maximo and his junta. The colonialists used to 
say thai some peoples were not fil for anything but some form of imperialism: 
The anti-colonial colonialists say that some peoples are not fit for anything 
but some form of totalitarianism. 

In the end, one wonders how far such words as "socialism,' 5 "democracy," 
"Marxism," and "dictatorship of the proletariat" can be stretched. For some 
of Castro's admirers, they can be stretched to the point of meaninglessness. 

Five years ago, for example, Huberman and Sweezy were shocked by 
Nikita Khrushchev's expose at the Soviet Communist parly's 20th Congress 
of his predecessor's vices. After a suitable period of reflection and repentance, 
they came up with a theory of Stalinism as "good ends with bad means." 
They explained that Stalinism "became the instrument of the advance to so- 
cialism" but, unhappily, "incorporated the methods of oriental despotism — 
murder, mendacity, duplicity, brutality, and above all arbitrariness." 10 This 
view of Stalinism has its roots in a certain conception of socialism. In this con- 
ception all that essentially matters is that the economy should be nationalized. 
The nationalizing state may be murderous, mendacious, guilty of duplicity, 
brutal and arbitrary, but it is still "socialist," And by separating the ends from 
the means, the political from the economic, what the state controls from 
who controls the state, socialism can be arrived at through oriental despotisms 
or pseudo-peasant revolutions. 


Marxian socialism was predicated not merely on a nationalized econo- 
my but on the harmonious development of several factors. The 
achievement of economic democracy by the socialist revolution presupposed 
the achievement of political democracy by the bourgeois-democratic revolu- 
tion. For this reason, the classical Marxists took political democracy for 
granted, as we no longer can, and they assumed that economic democracy 
would be built on it. They conceived of socialism as the culmination of 
capitalist development, without which the prerequsites of socialism — an 
advanced industrial economy and a preponderant, improverished, class- 
conscious proletariat — could not be fulfilled. 

History has not worked out that way. Where capitalism has been successful, 
the prerequisite of a preponderant, impoverished, class-conscious proletariat 
has not been fulfilled; and where capitalism has not been successful, the 
prerequisite of an advanced industrial economy has also not been fulfilled. 
Either the middle class has not been strong enough to achieve a viable 
capitalist economy or it has been strong enough to bar the way to a socialist 

w. "MontUy Eerlew/" July-August 1»W, pp. TUl, 


This familiar dilemma of modern socialism has spawned all sorts of bastard 
and spurious "socialisms." Instead of tbe proletariat, they issue out of the 
middle class, but of that portion in revolt against the failure of the middle 
class. These sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie gravitate irresistibly 
toward the ideology of socialism, but they can make use only of those aspects 
of socialism which conditions permit them to utilize. They cannot be faithful 
to the fundamental ideas of the socialist tradition— that the proletariat 
should liberate itself, that there are prerequisites of socialism, especially an 
advanced industrial economy, and that socialism must fulfill and complement 
political democracy. 

But there is one aspect of socialism on which they can seize without delay 
or restraint. They can find in Marxism an ideological sanction for the 
unrestricted and unlimited use of the state to change the social order, and 
they can find in Leninism a sanction for their unrestricted and unlimited 
power over the state. In classical Marxism, the role of the socialist stale 
was conditioned by the stage of development at which it was put into effect 
and by the class relationships which governed its realization. In this caricature 
of socialism, however, the only prcrequsile that really matters is the seizure 
of power, no matter by whom, how, when, or where. Thus we live in a time 
not only of "Cuban socialism" but of "Indonesian socialism" and even of 
"African socialism." 

This phenomenon indicates that we are badly in need of new words to 
assume some of the burden that has been thrust on socialism. The order of 
development cannot be inverted— first tbe revolution, then the prerequisites 
of socialism — without resulting in a totally different kind of social order, 
alien to the letter and. infinitely more, to the spirit of socialism. These 
inverted revolutions from above belong to what, for want of a better word, 
we must call the Communist family of revolutions, which, in practice, serve 
to industrialize the peasantry rather than to liberate the proletariat. But even 
this family has grown so large and now covers so much ground that its 
name does not necessarily guarantee full understanding. 

For about 30 years, the only Communism was Russian Communism and. 
in effect, Communism was whatever the Russians said it was. Then, in 1948, 
came the Titoist variant — a small Communist state in rebellion against Rus- 
sian domination- — and, at the end of 1949, the Chinese variant — a Communist 
state so vast that it could rival Soviet Russia in power. But both the Yugoslav 
and Chinese Communist leaderships derived from a common source, the 
Comintern* which from 1919 to 1943 was tightly controlled by and wholly 
dependent on the Russian Communists. Thus far the line of descent was 
clear and direct. 

Now a new branch of the family has begun to emerge. It is related to the 
national-revolutionary movements which the world Communist movement 
long before Khrushchev had recognized as a distinct force and with which 
it had sometimes collaborated and sometimes competed. As late as 1954, the 
Soviet press attacked Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah and his parly as 
a "screen" for British imperialism. Under Khrushchev, however, the pendu- 
lum has swung over to the outermost limits of collaboration. This policy, 


apparently one of the points at issue between the Russian and Chinese 
Communis! parties, reflects the undeniable fact of the last few years that 
no Communist has been a match for Nkrumah in Ghana, Sekou Toure in 
Guinea, or Fidel Castro in Cuba. The local Communists were, therefore. 
advised to bide their time and achieve their goal in two stages instead of 
one. First the national-revolutionary movement could win power, then the 
Communists could win power in the national-revolutionary movements. 

This strategy owes its succes3 to a shrewd assessment of the national- 
revolutionary movements. They are far more capable than the Communists 
of achieving national unity against the common enemy. But the common 
enemy, not a social and political program, gives them their raison d'etre. 
As a result, they are much more inspiring and effective, before taking power 
than they are afterward. Filling ihe political and social vacuum the day after 
the revolution gives the Communists greater opportunities than they had 
during the revolution. Above all, the nationalist leaders are usually men 
whose magnetic mass appeal is combined with intellectual fuzziness, adven- 
turist temperaments, and insatiable egos. Their strong point makes them 
indispensable and their weak points vulnerable to the Communists. They 
serve the Communists only on condition that the Communists should appear 
to be serving them. Their political school was nothing like the Comintern, 
and they represent a variant still farther away from the Russian prototype 
than Marshal Tito or Mao Tse-tung. 

This variant has gone farther in Cuba than anywhere else, though the 
story is far from finished there, too. For this reason, Fidel Castro has cast 
such a large shadow from such a small island. 

The phenomenon of Fidel Castro has, as yet, received little serious study. 
His revolution may not be the one that he promised to make, but it is for 
all thai a genuine revolution. It is related to other upheavals in countries 
with similar national and social resentments and inequalities, ft cannot be 
dismissed as nothing more than a diabolical aberration because it is not 
what it claims to be. It belongs to a new type of system, neither capitalist 
nor socialist, that emerges where capitalism has not succeeded and socialism 
cannot succeed. In most pro* and anti-Castro propaganda, the revolution that 
brought him into power is so ruthlessly distorted that his entire political 
development begins and ends in fantasy. The serious student will seek 
answers to questions that the mycologists of "Left" and "Right" do not 
even ask. How could a revolution basically middle-class in nature be turned 
against that class? How could a revolution made without the official Commu- 
nists and for the most part despite them become so intimately linked with 
them? How, in short, could Fidel Castro promise one revolution and make 
another, and what consequences flowed from this revolutionary schizophrenia? 

The answers, as I have suggested, take us into territory that has been as 
yet hardly explored. For the Communists and the Fidelistas to meet, both 
had to travel some distance from their starting-points. The Communists had 
to make up their minds that they could win power, not against Fidel but 
only through Fidel. In all probability, this decision was made after an 
internal struggle in the first half of 1958 between the Old Guard "Stalinist" 


leadership headed by the general secretary, Bloa Rooa, and i\ more flexible 
"Khrushchevite" group represented by the editor of the party organ, Carloi 
Rafael Rodriguez. Some compclenl observer* believe thai ihe deal WBI made 
in the Sierra Maestra before Castro took power and Mini all his moves have 

been determined by this pad. Others think thai he wenl through a period 
of wavering and vacillation in the first months of his ngimr, In any raw, 
his major decisions were made so secretively and wilhin such a small group 
that even former members of his Government profess lo In- ujurrtairi of (lis 
commitments and motives. 

The inner history of Castro's regime remains to be told. Its main lines, 
however, have become increasingly clear. Fidel Castro — as much demagogue 
as idealist, as much adventurer as revolutionary, as much anarchist as 
Communist or anything else — was suddenly and unexpectedly catapulted 
into power without a real party, a real army, or a real program. In the 
struggle for power, he had put forward no original economic or political 
ideas and had stayed well within the limits of traditional democratic reform 
and idiom in Cuba. He differed from Batista's other enemies chiefly in the 
tactics he was willing to employ, in his faith in armed struggle and his 
willingness to organize it. But once power came into his hands, he refused 
to permit anything that might lessen or restrict it. He -would not tolerate 
the functioning of a government which was not the facade of his personal 
rule or of a party which might develop a life of its own. His power and his 
promises were from the first incompatible, and this contradiction forced him 
to seek a basis for his regime wholly at variance with that of the anti-Batista 
revolution. He did not have the disciplined and experienced cadres, the 
ideology, and the international support to switch revolutions in full view of 
the audience. Only the Cuban and Russian Communists could make them 
available to him. Having formerly collaborated with Batista (whose Govern- 
ment once contained both Juan Marinello and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez), the 
Cuban Communists were easily capable of collaborating with Castro. The 
"united front" of Communists and Fidelistas is heading, as Guevara recently 
intimated in Moscow, towards a "united party," and if it materializes, Fidel 
Castro will certainty go down in history not as the Lider Maximo of a new 
movement but as the Pied Piper of an old one. Still, as long as the Communists 
need him at least as much as he needs them, further surprises cannot be ruled 
out; Fidel's ego may give the Communists as much trouble as it has given 
many others. 

When I returned from Cuba last spring, I wrote: "Castro once spoke of 
his revolution as 'liberty with bread and without terror.' If he continues 
to push too hard, too fast, and too far, Cuba may yet have more terror 
without either bread or liberty/' 11 Unfortunately, my worst apprehensions 
have come true, and Fidel Castro has given Cuba not a national revolution 
hut an international civil war. 

"■ Tlii-odoro Dm per, "Tim Rtuiaway Revolution," "The Eeportpr," May 12, I9fl0, 


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